Rams rookie defensive back Cobie Durant (left) poses with Eric Thomas after the Academic Challenge Leadership Workshop (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Los Angeles Rams hosted a Leadership Workshop for high school football teams that are participating in the Academic Challenge. The Workshop took place in the Rams’ locker room in SoFi Stadium.

The 2023 season of the Academic Challenge had 315 student athletes from nine varsity football teams participate, including Fremont, Canoga Park and Monroe high schools. Eight students from each school attended the Leadership Workshop.

During the workshop, motivational speaker and author Eric Thomas led the students in a leadership conversation. Thomas talked about his life experience and the importance of overcoming obstacles.

“The right messages with the right people in the right environment, it just hits different,” Thomas said. “They will remember this day and this message forever. How many kids get to come and be on the field with the Rams?”

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Rams rookie defensive back Cobie Durant also talked about his journey to the NFL and the challenges that he faced along the way.

“You never know what kids are going through,” Durant said. “Throughout life, everybody’s gonna face adversity. It’s just how are you gonna get through it? How are you gonna maintain being strong?”

Each student that attended received a copy of Thomas’ book “You Owe You: Ignite Your Power, Your Purpose, Your Why.”

Eric Thomas talks to the students athlete (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

“Never give up, keep going,” Fremont senior Antwyone Browder said about what he learned from the assembly. “You can get anything you put your mind to.”

Thomas spoke on how he grew up with a lack of opportunities. Fremont senior Michael Ramirez found that aspect of his speech relatable.

“We come from South Central L.A., Fremont. We don’t get much opportunities out here,” Ramirez said. “Everyone has a chance if you just try, take any opportunities you have, take advantage of what you do have and just never give up.”

The Academic Challenge  is a competition where nine LAUSD high schools battle academically to win either the highest or the most improved GPA. The Rams collect the cumulative GPAs of the teams before the fall semester and after. The winners of both categories receive a $2,500 equipment grant and the runners-up receive $1,500.

Since its inception, the Rams have donated over $25,000 to high school football teams. The Challenge also provides assemblies that educate the youth in professional development and financial literacy.

“They’re in a unique phase of developing their identity, discovering who they are, their passions and even connecting to their why,” said Rams director of social justice and football development Johnathan Franklin. “It’s all about access and opportunity and this is what these moments are for.”